1. I didn't install GParted (I use live medias for that, and pre-mint resize was done in windows8, using its disc management, to avoid some issues).
3. No wine here (won't ned it) but I think it could be a wine issue, in the past it did something similar, and another time I couldn't remove the menu entries.
To fix the mint menu entries, try to remove and recreate them manually (from the mint menu right click and "edit menu").
2. The mint menu is fine here (mint 15 up and running now, none of the issue you are experiencing) and programs appear there just fine (didn't instal wine, just smplayer).
Can't be of much help here, maybe the install media was corrupt? You could try reinstalling mint-menu (terminal, sudo apt-get --reinstall install mintmenu).
4. If the background issue happens when the picture file is in a directory on the Win8 partition, remember you mus mount the partition before accessing the image; I suppose you have the BG in some folder on the "Acer" partition, so I suggest you to mount it in the fstab (mount it manually, go in terminal, sudo blkid, copy partition UUID, sudo nano /etc/fstab, add it there); remember you must turn off Windows 8 "fast startup" feature, as srs5694 said, or you will have issues back in windows.
5. I didn't try it since I find the default brightness fine, but there's a fix you may want to try; I see it fixed the issue for a lot f ppl, but not for all. The link: viewtopic.php?f=49&t=146708
The post is about another laptop, but the backlight section is the relevant one. Be aware that it'll do a update-grub, so the bootloader may see the changes.
6. I don't know about DVD, but USB Stick will boot if they have a EFI loader (and if "Secure" boot is off). Read point 3 in my previous post, there's my experience on mint/ubuntu USB Key (but sadly not older, non EFI, distros).
I'm thinking of finally installing mint 13 too: it may be old, but it's an LTS, so support / updates are there till 2017, and overall it it's not that different from mint 15.
Actually I got mint 15 MATE running fine, after having had to learn about EFI and stuff (thanks srs5694, good info on rEFInd pages). How you set it up make the "result" change, so I'll write how I did it, I hope it can help.
- Disabled windows 8 pagefile, hybernation, system restore, debugginf information, fast startup. Reboot.
- Resized the Acer partition (OS partition) to 100GB using windows 8 disc management. Reboot.
- Enabled windows 8 pagefile, hybernation, system restore, debugginf information; leaved fast startup disabled. Reboot.
NB: I started from a factory standard setup, so you need to clean the *nix partitions of your install, and remove the boot entry in the FW (restore factory setting on Security tab).
- With a mint usb stick in and Secureboot disabled and F12 enabled, boot, hit F12, choose the USB stick, choose mint.
- In the setup I did this: I choosed to partition manually, made a 8GB SWAP at the end of the free space, made a big ext4 partition of the rest (mountpoint /), and choose to put the boot loader (grub) in this ext4 partition.
NB: the default puts the bootloader in sda, won't work, and I tried to put it in the ESP, but it made a mess. So stick with putting it in the partition you just made (sd7 in my case, since I had 5 partitions and sda6 is my SWAP)
- Setup as usual the lovely mint of choice. Turn the netbook off. (with mint 15 I got a new entry in the EFI FW, called linux mint, and it lauchs grub if selected with F12)
- Before rebooting, prepare a bootable USB stick with rEFInd, extracting the content of the .iso image to a FAT32 USB stick. Connect it and reboot.
- F12, select USB stick, rEFInd will boot, choose the "linuxmint" entry so it'll boot mint from the HDD.
- In the terminal, sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get upgrade; this will update the system up to date, also with a new kernel.
NB: since you can move around booting media in the F12 menu (with F5/F6), I didn't install rEFInd, and I just sorted the boot menu order in the FW.
I sorted it like this: DVD, USB, "linuxmint", windows loader. In this way it'll boot linux mint using the signed grub that mint installed and set in the FW first, or if F12 is pressed I can choose windows. If there's a EFI bootable media it'll boot it first.
I won't need windows 8 much (well, I won't at all, the netbook is for family member), so this solution is enough for me. I still need to add the windows 8 menu entry to grub (to have a nicer dual boot), but I haven't had much time, and testing around stuff on this notebook took its time, expecially since I had to learn about EFI, that was new for me. I don't know if I'll add rEFInd if I make grub work as I want, but I have to say the thing looks powerful, I will test more later.
I'm still working to make the setup better / simpler, but I think I almost nailed a painless / error free way to setup mint on this notebook.
Just another thing: if your Notebook havs a nvidia GPU (mine has one), to make that work there is some fiddling to do (nvidia proprietary driver, bumblebee), That post I linked before tells you how to do that. I'll test it for the sake of completion, but I don't think I'll need to use the GPU, the Intel HD4000 is fine for most applications, like playing HD videos, and ther ewon't be games on it. But may help with power usage / fan noise, can't say now.